Babylon 5 is an American space opera television series created by writer and producer J. Michael Straczynski, under the Babylonian Productions label, in association with Straczynski's Synthetic Worlds Ltd. and Warner Bros. Domestic Television. After the successful airing of a backdoor pilot movie, Warner Bros. commissioned the series as part of the second-year schedule of programs provided by its Prime Time Entertainment Network (PTEN). The pilot episode was broadcast on February 22, 1993 in the US. The first season premiered in the US on January 26, 1994, and ran for the intended five seasons. Describing it as having "always been conceived as, fundamentally, a five-year story, a novel for television," Straczynski wrote 92 of the 110 episodes, and served as executive producer, along with Douglas Netter.
Set between the years 2258 and 2281, it depicts a future where Earth has sovereign states, and a unifying Earthgov. Colonies within the solar system, and beyond, make up the Earth Alliance, and contact has been made with other spacefaring races. The ensemble cast portray alien ambassadorial staff and humans assigned to the five-mile-long Babylon 5 space station, a centre for trade and diplomacy. Described as "one of the most complex programs on television," the various story arcs drew upon the prophesies, religious zealotry, racial tensions, social pressures, and political rivalries which existed within each of their cultures, to create a contextual framework for the motivations and consequences of the protagonists' actions. With a strong emphasis on character development set against a backdrop of conflicting ideologies on multiple levels, Straczynski wanted "to take an adult approach to SF, and attempt to do for television SF what Hill Street Blues did for cop shows."
Generally viewed as having "launched the new era of television CGI visual effects," it received multiple awards during its initial run, including two consecutive Hugo Awards for best dramatic presentation, and continues to regularly feature prominently in various polls and listings highlighting top-rated science fiction series. Not appearing on American television since 2003, it continues to be shown in international markets such as Fox in the UK, the TV4-ScifFi Channel in Sweden, and the FBC TV channel in Fiji. Initially written by Straczynski, DC began publishing Babylon 5 comics in 1994, with stories that closely tied in with events depicted in the show, with events in the comics eventually being referenced onscreen in the actual television series. The franchise continued to expand into short stories, RPG games, and novels, with the Technomage trilogy of books being the last to be published in 2001, shortly after the spin-off television series, Crusade, was cancelled.
All rights except for a possible movie are controlled by Warner (movie rights are retained by Straczynski).